There was a time when hopping into the backseat of a stranger’s car as a mode of transportation would have been considered ludicrous. Today, however, ride-sharing is actually one of the fastest-growing and most popular options, especially in large cities such as Chicago.
Safety Precautions Related To Ride-Sharing Drivers
With ride-sharing’s increased usage, however, also comes rising concerns about just how safe it really is to get into a stranger’s car and trust you’ll be taken to your requested destination. Two of the most popular apps for ride-sharing, Uber and Lyft, have been trying their best to highlight safety awareness for all riders, but after a recent tragedy, when a University of South Carolina student was killed after she accidentally got into the wrong vehicle she thought was her Uber, efforts have been intensified in hopes of avoiding more of these horrific incidents from happening.
Law enforcement agencies and ride-sharing companies urge riders to take extra precaution before getting into their requested vehicles, especially if any drinking has been involved, as many of those pretending to be the ride-sharing drivers often target bars since those riders are more likely to not pay attention. Numerous accusations of assault and abuse have been brought against ride-sharing drivers. Although there is currently no determinative data as to the exact number of reports that have been filed against drivers, rider safety has become one of the main priorities for ride-sharing companies as they continue to work on addressing and improving safety concerns.
As part of this initiative, Uber is getting ready to launch a new feature on its app that will send push notifications to riders to remind them to check both the vehicle and the driver before getting in. In the notification, Uber plans to include the driver’s name, a photo of the driver, the vehicle’s make and model, and the license plate number. Uber will also partner with universities to start a nationwide awareness campaign called “Check Your Ride”.
Lyft currently provides photos of the driver and a description of the vehicle to its riders. Some Lyfts even have displays on the driver’s dashboard that will change color to match the riders’ app, making it significantly easier for riders to identify their correct ride. Lyft released a statement saying, “We are always exploring new, innovative ways to improve the experience for all users, and most importantly, to keep our community safe.”
Awareness of Vehicle Recall Issues
Although Uber and Lyft have made statements about prioritizing rider safety, there will always be a risk for passengers, especially in environments where riders are not fully aware of their surroundings. Hopefully, as ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft continue strengthening their safety precautions, riders will be able to use ride-share more comfortably where their safety is involved.
Getting into the car of a stranger and putting your safety into his or her hands is not the only thing riders must be concerned about. In a recent report from Consumer Reports, a review of 94,000 vehicles in New York City and Seattle. The two cities are heavily reliant on ride-sharing and have governments that require drivers to register their vehicles and obtain additional licenses to be allowed to work through regulators. In this study, it was discovered that about 1 in 6 vehicles had one or more open safety recalls. Some of these vehicles had serious issues, such as the Takata airbags that were discovered to be capable of hurting or killing the driver or front-seat passenger, and posed serious risks for riders and drivers alike.
Despite Uber and Lyft constantly trying to change and influence daily transportation for people, the discovery that fairly minor steps have been taken to guarantee that their drivers address any recall issues they are having is concerning. Currently, Uber and Lyft generally allow vehicles that are legally registered and no more than 10 to 15 years old to be driven for ride-sharing, with adjustments made depending on the city. Although local requirements might mean more carefully monitored vehicle inspections, neither Uber nor Lyft have a clear policy for open recalls.
These concerns about the safety of the actual vehicles being used for ride-sharing leads to a question of what to do in a situation where something happens to the vehicle. How can ride-sharing companies improve the foreseeability of terrible accidents occurring due to vehicle malfunction?
Although there is currently no definitive plan from either Uber or Lyft for how they will improve the monitoring of these recall issues, there is hope that more significant steps will be taken for so many unanswered recall problems. In response to the report, Uber and Lyft representatives sent written statements to Consumer Report stating that there were a number of initiatives being put in place to work with drivers on improving how they address recalls. Uber specifically stated “it recognizes the role it can play in helping keep the roads safe for everyone.”
As the safety of both passengers and drivers is incredibly important, we hope that ride-sharing companies, especially the more popular ones such as Uber and Lyft, continue to pursue a more definitive plan to address recall issues and help us maintain safer roads.